Emotion Through Dance

Fall for Dance, held at the New York City Center on W 55th Street, is in its 9th year of running. The October 2nd performance provided a diverse array of performances, including a traditional ballet, a southern, soulful duet, a powerful tribal ceremony, and an eastern European folk dance. Each of the four performances evoked emotions through movement.

The traditional ballet was by far the longest of the four. Many of the ballerinas appeared almost sickly, with slender arms and legs. They flew through the air and performed many spins and twirls while balanced on their toes. Their performance was graceful, elegant, and well choreographed. The one ballerino almost pranced around the stage, and completed every turn with fine precision. The entire piece induced a feeling of majesty and inspired a real appreciation for such exactitude and grace.

(Courtesy Metro News)

The shortest routine followed the first and longest. It contrasted with the seriousness of its predecessor, with a bluesy humor resonation. The performance could be described as slick, and took the audience back to the 60’s. The main dancer, who both sang and danced simultaneously, sang the witty lyrics strongly and with much intonation. Her song was almost a short story. Her strong expressive pitch induced feelings of the old south and a nostalgia for the past. Her co-performer, a male, was excellent in playing a background role in the performance. His lifts and assistance allowed the main dancer to successfully perform her routine.

The most unique performance centered on a sort of tribal re-enactment. The number utilized drums as an element of sound. The dancers also used the drums as a prop in their dancing. The piece began with a woman wailing center stage, in front of a drum. Additional members of the tribe joined her, and the wailing eventually transformed into a fierce, chaotic beating of drums. The women frantically shook their long hair back and forth. Their movements mirrored the beating of their drums. Their dancing was very powerful as was their strong drumming. This performance was very artistic and moving. The wailing invoked raw personal emotion and the piece’s primeval element was uniquely reverberating.

(Courtesy the New York Times)

The final performance brought the evening to an end on a happy note. The performance seemed to be in an eastern European style, perhaps Bavarian. The folk dance seemed very light and often humorous. Through the dancers faces, the audience could see that they were truly enjoying themselves. The group of male dancers was perhaps the most entertaining. They galloped around stage effortlessly, kicking their legs high in the air. Their costumes were reminiscent of old world Europe. They wore black boots and medieval clothing. The group of women, who seemed to outnumber the men, wore green skirts, white shirts, and bandanas. They appeared as gypsies. They used their skirts as props in their own dance steps, shaking them from side to side. The men and women took turns in the spotlight, but came together periodically and danced with each other. The number was very light and fun.

The range in dance routines provided a night of excellent entertainment, but it also allowed the audience to participate in the dancers’ own unique emotions.

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Annual Fall for Dance Festival

On the evening of October 2nd, the New York City Center hosted its 9th annual Fall for Dance Festival.  During the course of the night, four independent dance companies conducted their own individual performances.  Each of these dances had its own unique style; however, some of them received better reactions from the audience than others.

Ballet West put on Grand Pas from Paquita, the opening act for the night.  The Grand Pas from Paquita, a Russian ballet, was a perfect way to kick off the festival.  Each of the ballerinas wore large tutus, which is the norm for ballerinas; however, their matching tutus were gold.  Rex Tilton, the lead male of the performance, wore tight-fighting pants and an elaborate golden vest.  His flashy gold vest seemed appropriate because his performance outshined the rest of the ballerinas. Tilton showed such emotion and passion, often bringing out the best in counterpart, Christiana Bennett.  Throughout the performance, Tilton was required to lift her for extended periods of time, and he was able to do so with such elegance and composure.  The music of this piece was quite soothing, and this performance ultimately set the bar high for the rest of the night.

Photo Credit: Luke Isley

In my opinion, the masterpiece of the festival was the second act performed by Tu Dance.  High Heel Blues was an upbeat and riveting performance that received a large acclaim at its conclusion.  Yusha Marie Sorzano, the lead female, expresses her dilemma of wanting to buy a pair of high-heeled shoes, even though they cause her pain.  While there was not much choreography in this routine, Sorzano and her partner, Uri Sands, performed their roles very audaciously.  Their powerful interactions grabbed the audience’s attention and would not relinquish their attentions, until their routine was over.  My only criticism with this dance was the simplistic black dress that Yusha wore.  I felt as though a more bold and daring costume could have been chosen to add to her role.  Other than that, this duet left the audience yearning for more.

Tarian Malam (Night Dances), put on by Nan Jombang, could not have been placed at a more inopportune time.  After such a lively duet, this company had big shoes to fill after the intermission.  I felt as though the audience was not as prepared for this dance as it could have been.  The dance starts off slow, as a duet, with very subtle movements.  It had a very cultural feel to it; however, it took a while for it to reach its height.  The dragging on of the performance made much of the audience develop negative opinions of it very early.  When it finally picked up, rhythm was an essential element to its “recovery.”  More people came onto the stage wearing tribal outfits.  They were banging drums and various objects in complete unison.  This dance developed its intensity over time, but the audience seemed to tune the performers out before it reached its height.

The finale of the night was the lively collection of dances, known as Moiseyev’s Classics.  The Moiseyev Dance Company put on four short, energetic dances that were a thrill for the audience to watch.  Much of their dancing consisted of various jumps, spins, and weaves between each other. Their execution was flawless, and one performer even completed an entire circle of jump-spins without faltering.  The performers’ displayed their passions, and their vibrant costumes and the loud, playful music only aided to their energy.  Their upbeat showing closed the Fall for Dance Festival on a high note.

Photo Credit: E.Masalkov

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A Splash of Moving Color

As the doll-like ballerinas emerged onstage, dazzling rays of light hit the golden threadwork on their tutus. With ethereal elegance, their swift legs sped to the center of the stage and their thin arms, first brushing against the rigid skirts of their dresses, gracefully raised into the air in anticipation of music. A wave of identically brilliant smiles spilled over the faces of the ballerinas and they commenced dancing. Their demanding choreography, consisting of areal turns and high leaps, was executed with such vigor and precision that the movements seemed almost natural for them. Like the multitude of young characters in Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace that basked in their own expectations of love, the dancers in Ballet West seemed to be entranced by their own fairytale. Though each dancer performed splendidly, they were not as successful as a unit. When all thirteen dancers appeared onstage, it was evident that their legs did not rise to the same height and their elbows did not bend at the same angle. However, attention was pulled away from the asynchronous movements when a male dancer, with movements so subtle and effortless, seemingly flew onto the stage. His hands tenderly rested on the midriff of the forefront ballerina as she stood on point with one foot and held the other in a perfectly horizontal position.

Ballet West at 2012 Fall for Dance
Image provided by www.worldartstoday.com

This first dance, the Grand Pas, started the 2012 Fall For Dance program with a classical splendor. The dance to follow was much shorter, less formal, and surrounded the audience with an air of good humor. In the purple darkness that flooded the stage, a single dancer stood illuminated by a beam of yellow light. Another character shortly emerged from the darkness, and the two started to move about in a flirtatious yet energetic fashion. Dancing to High Heel Blues, the pair enacted a comedic story of a woman determined to buy a pair of painful high-heeled shoes. As the female character struggled to escape the grasp of the other, the movements of the two were completely different, yet they both coincided with the upbeat music. Once her reluctance passed, she joined to mirror his dance. In perfect unison, the two would use their incredible agility to leap and glide to the blues.

Absorbing the energy from the dance, the audience was certainly not prepared for the melancholy act to follow. With a simple red dress hugging her body and hair draped over her bent head, a woman stood center stage before a large drum. She released a bone-chilling cry that initiated the Tarian Malam (Night Dances). Several other dancers joined her, all moving about frantically to recreate a moment of catastrophe that befell upon their native Indonesia in 2009. As they hovered around the drums, they stamped their feet and clapped their hands to produce sounds. Red light beat onto the spinning heads of the woman as they shouted war cries and mechanically beat their hands against the drums.  Observing their combination of marital arts and spiritual movements was a sensational, if not confusing, experience. Although each slam of the hand, jump into the air, and rotation of the body was well timed and precise, the sum of all motion did not amount to a greater picture. The performance was unpleasantly repetitive and difficult to comprehend.

Nan Jombang at 2012 Fall for Dance
Image provided by www.criticalmassblog.net

The final segment of the performance was a combination of ethnic dances. Ranging from the Tatars of the Crimea to the Bessarabia Gypsies, the dances were performed with enthusiasm and energy.  Yet they remained just that: dances. There was no story behind the movement, no hidden meaning behind the smiles of the dancers. Regardless, they all created an amusing display, as their sea of vibrant costumes moved in immaculate harmony.

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Many Small Messages, One Giant Success

Whether it was the elegance of the ballet in the first act, the comedic realism of High Heel Blues, or the methodical yet aggressive stop and go portrayal of “Luminous” by the Hong Kong Ballet, this year’s Fall for Dance was technically sound and emotionally powerful.


Each dance was representative of very specific emotions and attitudes, which ranged from cultured and dignified to loose and fun.


Adam Sklute provided the audience with an absolutely outstanding ballet performance, Grand Pas from Paquita. The stage was reminiscient of a bright sunny day, where one might hear birds chirping along with a cool breeze that swayed the dancers.The organization of the performance, with the rotation of attention placed on each dancer, allowed the audience to enjoy the natural talents of each of the performers. Because each of the dancers, fluttering in their pink tutus and shimmering tiaras, had the stage all to themselves for a brief minute or so, the pressure was on for one to be better than the last. These solo routines left the audience in awe. One dancer who stood out far above the others was Sayaka Ohtaki. Near the end of the line full of talented performers, Ohtaki provided the routine with just the spark it needed at that time. Her form was unwavering yet fluid, and the smile on her face seemed to reflect off of the equally jovial audience. The audience held it’s collective breath as she soared diagonally across the stage during her grande jetés, moving seamlessly with the music. She received a fully deserved roaring applause as she bowed at the end.


High Heel Blues exemplifies the truth of human nature in a quick five or so minutes, contrasting the proper and formal ballet of the act before. When people are torn between whether or not they want something, they tend to rely on advice from others. Ms. Sorzano constantly repeats how she wants those high heel shoes, but her inner conflict is “resolved” by the very convincing shoe salesman, who exploits her desire to his advantage. The effortless transitions in the dance directly opposed the tense, difficult mindset of the woman, and her emotions were literally and figuratively put in the spotlight, as she and the salesman were the only people or objects visible on stage. Both the dancers moved flawlessly, providing a visual parallel to the smooth sound of the blues. Received with much humor and enthusiasm, this performance provided a great transition into the intermission, ending the first half of the show on a light note.


Nan Jombang takes the audience across the world in a dance inspired by the earthquake that shook Southeast Asia in 2009 with his Tarian Malan (Night Dances).  This was made clear right in the beginning, as a woman wailed, her cries piercing through the air. The slow moving steps along with deep resonating sounds of the percussion shook the audience, just as they must have shaken the victims of Indonesia. Though it may have seemed a little too slow, it is important for viewers to realize the meaning behind it and the graveness of the situation. The beating of their stomachs provided a base beat resembling the rumbling of the earth, as it occurred right in the middle of the performance. This element seemed to heighten the intensity of an already serious dance tenfold. Certain dance steps such as the female dancers jerking their heads back and forth portrayed an image of the actual reverberations felt from the earthquake. This dance, though a little more difficult to interpret for the audience, was still executed to perfection and received a reaction it deserved.


Moiseyev’s Classics became an instant hit with the crown. With four different dances, all depicting Russian folk culture of the mid- twentieth century, the upbeat tempo and athleticism of the performers was the perfect way to end this showcase of talent. Every performer was emitting a full blast of energy and some of the audience could be seen dancing along with the music, especially during Kalmyk Dance, performed by three very talented of the Moiseyev Dance Company. The one aspect of this performance that separated it from the others was the costumes of the dancers. They wore customary Russian clothing: the women with plain blouses with scarfs on their heads and dark colorful skirts, and the men wearing mostly dark long tops with black pants. Judging by how this dance invigorated the audience after the rather mournful sentiment of Tarian Malan, it offered an exciting finish to Fall For Dance.


Fall For Dance proved to be a noteworthy collection of four very different dances, each conveying a different message, did not fall short of expectations one bit. It is definitely worth a watch, and with the price of $15, maybe multiple watches!

Practice Makes Perfect: A Snapshot of a Rehearsal for Kalmyk Dance

Practice Makes Perfect

Credit: thebestofrussia.ru/ Eugene Masalkov

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Falling for Dance

Since 2004, the New York City Center has been educating New Yorkers on the art of dance. Fall for Dance is a great show that helps expose individuals to a great way of properly understanding the various facets of this form of art. Every year the show incorporates new works into their show and it makes for a great experience. It acts as a great introductory to the different dance forms and categories, which is especially necessary with today’s fast-paced generation.

While squeezing through the tight aisles to get to our seats, what really caught my eye was the stage. Having been to the New York City Center prior to the event, this time, I felt as if I was in a whole new theatre.

Credits to Metronews

The first exhibition was from Ballet West, directed by Adam Sklute. This particular dance was called “Grand Pas From Paquita.” Paquita is a Russian ballet in two acts and three scenes, founded in the mid 19th century to help shed light on Russian ballerinas. The Ballet West did a great job of carrying on the tradition. Their choreography involved a constant flow of smooth movement that was left undisturbed. All the dancers were in sync and able to follow each other flawlessly. Their costumes were appropriate for their dance and blended right into the atmosphere of the theatre.

The second act was called the “High Heel Blues” brought to us by the Tu Dance Company and directed by Toni Pierce-Sands and Uri Sands. This was, without a doubt, my favorite performance of the night. The dance added an aspect of humor to the show and was greatly refreshing. The darker colors worked perfectly with the general theme, with the black clothes from the dancers to the purple light being cast on stage. As the only dance to provide a voice and words with the movement, it proved as a great way to introduce a generation like mine to the arts. Although the voice was off stage, the dancers did a magnificent job of following the lyrics and guiding the audience through the meaning of the production.

The Nan Jombang dance company, along with their director Ery Mefri, had me wondering if I was in a dance show or a roller coaster. There were moments when I felt I was in the presence of true art and there were moments when I considered walking out.  Their piece, “Tarian Malam,”  (also called Night Dances) was created just a few months prior to Fall for Dance and came from the group’s Indonesian roots. It started out with a woman of Asian descent almost crying on stage. The depth of her voice conveyed sorrow throughout the theatre. The use of weary orange clothes helped reinforce the idea of humility in the dance, along with Asian influences. Then Mefri made the use of live instruments and even music from the dancers tapping their own bodies. The dancers were jumping over each other to get to the next instrument and the rush in their movement made the production very invigorating, as if it were displaying acrobatics. It was great for someone of my generation, who is used to a more fast-paced form of dance. However, Mefri had the show going with infrequent breaks of silence and additional sorrow from the dancers. For someone relatively new to dance like myself, it was a pleasant experience, interrupted by many unpleasant halts.

Credits to Suite of Moldavian Dance

The final dance was “Moiseyev’s Classics,” by the Moiseyev Dance Company. Director Elena Shcherbakova wonderfully ended the show on an artistically playful note. She decided to focus on the dance of the Kalmyks, the Tartars, the Bessarabians, and the Moldavians. The Kalmyks danced to show their connection to animals, however, that was very difficult to infer from Shcherbakova’s work.  The Tartars danced to show life in a small village, which through the dance was easily detected. The Bessarabians wanted to convey a tension between men and women through dance and Shcherbakova did a great job of recreating that on stage. The costumes were far more colorful than the previous performances and helped to keep the production playful and energizing. The final Moldavian dance successfully portrayed the Moldavian folk dance with the dancers forming a “boisterous round dance.”

Fall for Dance is a show that is a great stepping-stone for those willing to get exposed and educated in dance. It provides many elements that keep a fast-paced New Yorker generation like mine interested and simultaneously instills new information in us about the arts. I plan to be there next year as well.

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A Blast of Ups and Downs

Set in a grandioso, classically constructed theater, Fall For Dance at the New York City Center blast started the night with an elegant ballet dance performance, Grand Pas from Paquita by Ballet West. The lively music and harmonious dancing for the opening spectacle gave the impression that the following three performances would be of equal or even greater caliber. Such an impression might very well be the downfall for the most of the subsequent performances.

The ballet dancers wore sparking dresses, radiating with golden colors from the lightings as if their joy and liveliness were painted on their clothing. As the dancers tip-toed and swirled across the stage to coordinated positions, four to each side and five in center, it looked as if they were birds dancing. Christiana Bennett, the lead dancer, meanwhile took fast twirls, kicks and spins with her partner, Rex Tilton, assisting her. Their large midair spins were especially impressive. Miss Bennett was able to maintain elegant spins without pauses or assist from Mr. Tilton for at least ten seconds. But Mr. Tilton revealed equal magnitude of confidence, spirit and strength as he took large twirling leaps on tip-toes across and around the stage. As a whole, the ballet dancers created a majestic stage, dancing swiftly and smoothly to the melodies being played.

Photo Credits to: Andrea Mohin from The New York Times

TU Dance’s High Heel Blues performance that followed the traditional 19th century ballet was a modern freestyle and playful dance. The contrast was sharp, perhaps too sharp. The duet dancers, Yusha Marie Sorzano and Uri Sands were good but not impressive. Their movements were very well coordinated and had synchronized with the audio (song) well. However, the entertainment factor seemed to be centered on the lyrics of the song rather than the actual dancing. The audiences giggled during parts of the lyrics as Miss Sorzano’s legs moved in sync with the content of the lyrics. But to those of us who had expected or wished for a different yet just as vigorous of a dance as the previous Grand Pas from Paquita dances, we were disappointed. High Heel Blues had failed to maintain that level of energy left by Ballet West dancers and bored those who had expected more.

An even more painful contrast following the whimsical duet of TU Dance was Nan Jombang Dance Company’s Tarian Malan (Night Dances). It had a very serious plot to their dance, narrating an “earthquake that struck [Indonesia] in 2009” (New York City Center Playbill). The dancers’ red overall costumes well reflected their roles as martial artists in Indonesia and as traditional dancers. And, their decision to portray that tragedy with silence was effective – if only it was not after a dry and light-hearted performance such as High Heel Blues. The slow, crawling movements offered by the dancers paired with the silence as she mourned could let the audiences’ minds wander elsewhere if not put them to sleep. When the slow movements suddenly shifted into rapid leaps and fast drumming that boomed the theater, we would expect it to escalate to a climax. But it soon ended and silence returned. The dance continued with the same pattern throughout its entirety. As tragic and dramatic as the event might be, the performance did not explicitly deliver that feeling and emotion to the audience.

After two dissatisfying performances, there were still hopes but the expectations were very low for the last dance, Moiseyev’s Classics by Moiseyev Dance Company, which included four dances: 1) Kalmyk Dance, 2) Tatarotchka, 3) Dance of Bessarabia Gypsies, and 4) Suite of Moldavian Dances. But what a pleasant surprise! Three jolly male dancers wearing refined overalls jumped out and began a very fast-paced dance filled with hops, leaps and hand swings. Their footwork was impressive. Although they move quickly, tapping their feet vibrantly on the ground, they looked relaxed and as if they were having a great time. The jolly melodies being played further enhanced the overall effect of the Kalmyk Dance, making the three dancers’ movement felt natural and exultant. The other three dances in Moiseyev’s Classics were equally splendid. The ladies wearing long dresses and flowery blouses, all with very bright colors, danced joyfully alongside the gentlemen who looked like town folks in unity, forming two large circles where one was inside the other. Together with the upbeat music, a jolly, dancing craze was created on stage, drawing the audiences to the tip of their seats. With the addition of stage lights and glittering dresses, the stage seemed to be lifted into a festival. Twirling, spinning, circling in and out, and jumping up and down, the dancers ended our night with a blast of enthusiasm, spirit and fun, just like how Grand Pas from Paquita began.

Photo Credits to: Andrea Mohin from The New York Times

Photo Credits to: Andrea Mohin from The New York Times

In dancing, nothing leaves more of an impression to the audience than the energy that its dancers bring. The Fall For Dance experience and its diversity of dances were certainly there. However, if the order of the performances were changed, our delight might just improve.

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A Season of Dance

This fall, Fall For Dance Festival is back again for its ninth annual year. Like always, the festival provides a unique and varied amount of culture and dance techniques.

Ballet West was up first as they danced the Grand Pas from Paquita. The dance was lively as the dancers moved with the perfect combination of strength and elegance. Their shiny costumes, glimmering tiaras, and bright cheery smiles all helped to portray happiness throughout their whole performance. Though at times repetitive, the arrangement of solo dances and group dances demonstrated each dancers individual ability as well as their intricate coordination to an extent that made my jaw drop in awe as I ponder on how hard it is to perform these moves continuously. The male lead was able to portray his masculinity effectively to remind us that ballet is not limited to girls. Overall, this was a great way to start the night off as the music had strong beats to invigorate the audience.

Tu Dance was up next as they danced the High Heel Blues. It was a complete change of pace. For starters, the stage was no longer filled with lights. It was dark and my focus immediately changed to the sound. The music was perhaps the most important element here as it tells a story about purchasing a pair of high heels. It was a comical jazzy song that added pounds of attitude to the already interesting dance which focused on a couple. The sleek and sexy movements and  their silhouettes put together an alluring dance that was sensual and playful at the same time. This was by far my favorite performance of the night due to the interesting dance moves and the incorporation of the hilarious song.

The next performance still leaves me scratching my head. Nan Jombang performed Tarian Malam for us next. Perhaps Tu Dance’s performance was so enjoyable that made me expect more from this performance. It still leaves me scratching my head. It wasn’t that it was bad but it just took way too long to build up. At one point, an aura of silence plagued the stage. Eerie screams from the female dancer made me wonder just where this was going. After what seemed like ten minutes, the action finally began as the dancers and drummers moved around like acrobats. The beats quickened as intensity finally built up to a point where the audience was finally paying attention. However, due to dragging out the dance, the intensity became commonplace and the levels of potency began to drop. This performance definitely remains in my mind for the wrong reasons, although I did find their traditional clothing and incorporation of instruments as part of the dance pleasing to the eye.

The final dance quickly helped to alleviate the drought of energy drained by the previous dance. Moiseyev Dance Company quickly livened up the stage and audience with moves that were exhilarating and left behind a good laugh. The whole audience laughed and the comedic vibes the male dancers sent off. This final dance focused on group dances and the blends of color. This created a dance that was pleasing to the eye. It was definitely a great way to end the night as their smiles and cheeriness sent the audience off with energy and the desire for more.

It was a wise choice to begin with the traditional and familiar dance of ballet. It was also a great choice to end with a lively dance that made up for the downfalls of the previous dance. The highlight of the night definitely goes to Tu Dance as it was unique, different, and somewhat contemporary. Overall, the night was interesting enough to receive my praise for an excellent variety of dances.

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In Unison

At the New York City Center, the Fall for Dance Festival comprised of various forms of dancing that appears to be forming one theme: unity.

The first form was Ballet West, which was expected to appear on stage. The peaceful, rhythmic music carried the girls from one side of the stage to the other, as they formed semi-circle after semi-circle. There was a smooth pattern in their adagio choreography. That is, until fast-paced music filled the theater. Unable to synchronize, the ballerinas’ legs formed waves on the stage: one ballerina was kicking up as another was coming down. However, the principals were able to overshadow this through their swift, graceful movements. Eventually, all mistakes were forgiven when the male principal performed a series of fouette turns. Their emotions lie in the controlled body movements and precision, as the music complemented one sauté after another as it lifted ballerinas in unison.

Juxtaposing ballet to modern dance, High Heel Blues, the sequence of this event portrays an element of spontaneity. The singing made it easier for the audience to understand the humor behind the female dancer’s love for shoes. The quick, then slow, movements of the body seemed to control the flow of their emotions, as the female dancer crept along the platform in front of the male dancer, and artistic director, Uri Sands.

The Night Dances piece is different from the others in that it casts off a gloomy feeling into the audience. The performers, dressed in red, drummed a rhythmic tune that echoed in the air with precision. The banging of their drums may have been able to rid the air of fear, keeping their emotions under control. “Red” may have symbolized the blood that spilled into the air along with the notes. This dance was based on the emotions of people who were affected by the earthquake in Indonesia in 2009. The circles they formed on stage were a representation of unity at times of grief.

Nan-Jombang, picture credits to worldartstoday.com

The final set of folk dances of the night was a combination of Russian pieces, collectively named Moiseyev’s Classics. Each dance was a depiction of their lifestyles in different places of Russia. Their gypsies’ dances differed in terms of music. Some were fast-paced while others were slow and elegant. However, there was a connection between each style of dancing. Every performer wore a colorful costume, plastered smiles and moved in unison on stage.

Moiseyev Dance Company in “Suite of Moldavian Dances.” Photograph by E.Masalkov

This idea of unity connects the various forms of dances into one event. Different genres, whether it is folk dance, modern dance or ballet, emphasize the importance of unity as a form of power. These dances are powerful because dancers moved in unison to convey each emotion.

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Fall For Dance

Four different acts, four different styles. The overall performance of Fall For Dance, starting with Ballet West, High Heel Blues, Tarian Malam, and finally Moiseyev’s Classics, was sensational. However, some acts surmounted others with applauses grander than the Grand Canyon.

To start us off with Ballet West, thirteen ballerinas moved nimbly onto the stage. In fact, they were moving so quickly that their movements were somewhat unprofessional – staggering, with one dancer falling behind another by a second’s progression. Their costumes were flouncy and bright, supporting the euphoric mood set by the music. Two more ballet dancers, one male and one female, royally made their way into the center of attention. The danseur moved powerfully and strikingly compared to the ballerina who moved lightly and gracefully across the stage.

The music converts from cheery to jazzy, sassy, and somewhat unpredictable, just like the movements of the dancer. The story behind the dance of High Heel Blues tells of a woman who is deeply in love with a pair of high heels and a salesman who helps and supports her to satisfaction. As the music of this dance suggests, the dance was not as airy and light as the first act. There were many whimsical gestures. The woman’s voice was powerful and very confident. The lyrics of the song were remarkable and playful, breaking the audience into giggles, snickers, and laughs.

Silence. The third act was introduced with a moment of silence. The beginning of Tarian Malam was so quiet that all the coughs and sneezes that were previously concealed by the melodies suddenly became unheeded. The audience began fidgeting in their seats. The drums broke the awkward atmosphere and as the act progressed, the dancers in their monk robes became increasingly more violent in terms of movements; they furiously played on their drums and passionately moved their heads and bodies with the music.

To end the show with more energy than the last, the four sets of dancers of Moiseyev’s Classics came prancing on stage. As opposed to the dancers of Ballet West, the dancers of this last act was very in-sync and even with their tap shoes on, not one extra click was heard between uniform clacks. There were so many different variations in movements in the dance – some moving left to right, some moving right to left, some moving into a circle, and some moving out. The music, costumes, and energy of the dancers truly mesmerized the audience, even those who were sent daydreaming in the last act.

Fall For Dance collaborates a variety of different dances to introduce their audience to learn and love. Although each of these dances are very different in terms of music and movement, there comes the universal language of dancing that can easily be valued and interpreted by anyone.

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The Annual Fall for Dance Festival

The New York City Center was packed for the annual Fall for Dance Festival, and rightly so, the crowd was ready to see serious skill. There were four very, very different performances that were put on. They ranged from traditional ballet to passionate reflections on natural disaster. I found some of them better than others.

The first of the bunch was the traditional ballet courtesy of Ballet West. There were plenty of girls who began the dance and exhibited great skill in the delicate art of ballet. The bodies of the women seemed to have poles in them, the ‘lines’ that the dancers made with their bodies were straight and rather impressive. It seemed as though the dancer’s arms and legs were connected and straight as an arrow. The muscles of the women were defined through their tights showing years of punishment to their bodies. It is necessary to be strong though, without strength the dancers would physically not be able to perform. The strongest of the group was the male dancer though, his name being Rex Tilton.

Courtesy of the NYC Center

He jumped, and I would have swore that gravity was turned down. The man was airborne for much longer than any average man can be. It was simply awesome to watch him fly around the stage. The other dancers that surrounded the duo were good, but they seemed like a simple background to the action of the man and his woman. They moved less and in different ways than the couple, which distanced them from the passion. Passion was a recurring theme in the whole festival for it has endless possibilities. The passion of the festival was not limited to just love though; you can be passionate about shoes too. Right?

The second dance was just that, the struggle of answering, what may be, the most impossible question of a young lady’s life. The question being, ‘should I get those shoes or not?’ The dance was full of jazz and blues, almost as if to say ‘if I don’t get the shoes, then I will be a sad excuse for a person.’ The kicker is that the shoes didn’t even fit her, she just liked them and of course the salesman is going to push to woman to buy them. Those salesmen are the worst, aren’t they? The whole second performance just seemed like real life and it was executed great, the crowd loved it. The third performance was a little less loved though.

The third act began quiet… too quiet. (Sorry I always wanted to say that.) During the quietness, the wonderful sound of sneezes, coughs, and cell phones were echoed throughout the near perfect acoustics of the NYC Center. It detracted from the performance, as the feeling of being transported to a place of rich culture and emotion was lost. Hearty sneezes do tend to have that effect of killing seriousness, especially when it’s supposed to be quiet. Now after the quiet parts, the action picked up and stole everyone’s attention back. The furious beatings of drums and the dancers even used their own costumes as some sort of percussion instrument. It was a nice wake-up call. The wake-up call shone through into the next performance, which was a Russian gypsy piece.

I personally thought it was a light-hearted performance that was meant to keep you smiling. The weird movements of the men on stage led to more than a few heavy outbursts of laughter. Now I am not sure if they were laughing at or with the dancers but it seemed to be the former. The dancers had cheery expressions on their faces and the dance was fast paced and exciting.

Courtesy of the New York City Center

If I had to rank the performances from favorite to least favorite, then I would choose ‘High Heel Blues,’ ‘Tarian Malam (Night Dances), then the gypsy dance and last but not least, the ballet. (I guess I’m just not the ballet type.)

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Falling for Dance

“Did you Fall for Dance?” the playbill says loud and clear at the top. I’d say yes, I have. The ninth annual Fall for Dance Festival showcased five unique programs, an interesting mix of modernized cultural dances by companies from all around the world: Australia, China, India, Indonesia, The Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Russia, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The show started with lively music entertained by glittery ballerinas twirling across the stage like stars across the sky. Although the beautiful movements blended well with the composition of the music, the group choreography was very repetitive and without a storyline. I was able to predict the next step. The ballerinas of Grand Pas From Paquita were not in sync, which became very distracting from enjoying the show. As a group, they lost synchronization with the music. The power and the emotions conveyed from the music was not the same way as the sensations conveyed in their dance. Though the opening performance started off disappointing, the ballerinas progressively showed improvement in their dance as the music slowed down and their dance steps were lighter. The solos were much more exciting and received much more applause from the audience. One particular dancer thrilled the audience with her leaping entrance and graceful steps. The male dancers harmoniously danced about the stage to the beat of the music.


Curtains closed and opened to a unique, amazingly choreographed, and humorously done, High Heel Blues. Although outfitting in non-traditional ballet attire, the two dancers, one male, one female, pranced around delicately barefoot and on their toes expressing the story sang in the blues song playing. The audience responded with laughter and smiles. If a performance causes a change in the audience’s emotions, then it is a good performance.


The third performance, Tarian Malam, was weak; the suspense it could have made with the sluggish movements and silence seemed to take forever until there were finally some drum hitting and energy in the dancers. The costumes were interesting though. The theme was clearly red; the lighting had matched their bright fiery clothing. When they did begin to move to the beat, there were a lot of head shaking, and their hair was flying, which emphasized on energy. Only for a few minutes of energy until they died down to slow steps again. It was clear the performance confused the audience when numerous individuals began to pay more attention to themselves and could not help but let out a cough. Its brief description explains that this showpiece is a contemporary narrative about the earthquake that struck in 2009, but it was very difficult to feel the same emotions through the performance.


The concluding performances were a wonderful mix of faster-paced dancing, which brought the audience’s mood back up again. The Russian collection, Moiseyev’s Classics, caused “ooo’s” and “ahh’s” to echo the theater. The Dance of Bessarabia Gypsies was very festive with their decorated and colorful dresses. The men dancing in Tatarotchka amused the audience with their shoulder dances and quick feet.



Fall for Dance left a wonderful impression of contemporary dance. Will you fall for dance?

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United they stand, divided they Fall…for Dance

This year was the ninth annual Fall for Dance festival. As always, it showed a variety of dances. Each dance had its own distinctive taste and nuances.

The first dance looked like a fairy tale between a princess and her prince. It was performed in the classical style. One issue that caught my eye was the other performers besides the prince and princess. It was a quantitative, not a qualitative, issue. There were thirteen of them. The number “13” always had a bad connotation. Maybe the choreographer didn’t notice it, but after counting them, I thought that it was going to be a not pleasant ending. Instead, the ending showed the both of them together, happy, and strong.

The second dance was a seduction piece between a woman and a salesperson that deals with shoes. The dance movements seemed modern, but they were powerful. The piece itself was shorter in comparison to the first piece, but it was very explicit. There was no guessing on what the piece may be about. There is a new expression that defines shoes (not diamonds) as a girl’s best friend. Logically, the best way to win over a girl is through shoes.


The third dance seemed like an East Asian indigenous ritual. The movements were slow. At times, they were too slow and worn out. For five minutes, someone could hear a sea of coughs and iPhone ringtones. After their movements were done, the drums came. It seemed as a relief to the audience. Finally, there would be something dynamic. I thought the drums would change the aspect of the piece. Instead, it was worn out. The beats all sounded the same. It was very redundant and made me yearn for the piece to end.

The fourth and final dance was that of the gypsies in Southern Russia. The piece was performed in a gypsy dance. There were lots of shaking of the body by both of men and women. As someone who has seen a Russian gypsy dance before, there was something missing. It was the singing! When they sing, they don’t sing in Russian. It is a different language. It has certain sound of magic and mystery in it, which drew me in the first time I heard it. The dance performance was on key, but the singing would’ve made it better.

Another issue with the performance was the romanticizing of the gypsy culture. The dance represented the ideal gypsy life with people dancing. In reality, many of the gypsies are in poverty and they were prosecuted. In addition, I imagined the piece to be set around the Volga River. People who worked near the Volga River faced terrible working conditions. They needed to pull ships against the current on the Volga River. Many men and women died trying to pull the ships. It would’ve been interesting to see if there could’ve been an incorporation of the tough lives they faced. It would’ve provided a so called “reality check”.

“Barge Haulers on the Volga” by Ilya Repin

            Looking at each part, some dances were better than other. Looking at the whole, Fall for Dance succeeded at what it does best: to show the audience different styles of dance.

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Falling For Fall for Dance

The Fall for Dance performance gave viewers an appealing, varied display of different dancing techniques and styles. Who doesn’t love variety? The performance was divided into four distinct acts, and although an overall entertaining performance, some acts were more successful than others in dazzling the audience.

Ballet West put on the first dance, Grand Pas from Paquita. The performers all had bright smiles to match their shining, golden and majestic wear. Everything reflected a happy and uplifting tone. It was set up on stage with a lead couple, surrounded by many background women dancers that complimented them. They moved gracefully with lifts and turns, capturing the audience’s attention. The lead male was energetic which slightly contrasted the lady’s elegance. The music was traditional ballet music, nothing surprising, but it was a long performance. However the elegance of the performance managed to carry it on decently, keeping me from drifting.

Photo Credits to Luke Isley

Following the traditional ballet was a complete change of key. “High Heel Blues,” performed by Tu Dance was a short, but refreshing duet. Jazzy and playful, the dance told the story of a woman wanting to buy a pair of high heel shoes, even though it isn’t the best for her. But the background music carries the dance on so well, involving vocals about the high heel shoes, giving the dance even more attitude than the choreography did. Their movements were not as graceful as the first ballet, but still involved lifts and more modern dance: some walking like motions and a smoother, cooler movement. This couple was much more intimate with one another than the ballet couple was. The woman wore a sleek black dress and the man’s clothes highlighted his muscle tone. The lights were dimmed so the audience could focus on the movement and the outlines of the dancers’ bodies. Everything in the dance contributed to attitude and jazz, making this a successful way to lead into intermission leaving the audience wanting more.

Photo Credits to Ingrid Werthmann

The next act added some Southeast Asian culture to the mix. Nan Jombang performed “Tarian Malam” (Night Dances). It filled the theater with an eerie atmosphere, created by slow movements and the sound of women’s cries. The performance started off very slow, too slow and dragged out, and even had one very long silent pause to add to that effect. With time standing still, not even the beating drums could pull someone out of this trance. The dancers wore traditional monk garb and the men were bare-chested. As the dance progressed however, the momentum did carry. Drumbeats got faster and more intense and the dancers’ movements came to life. They were wildly jumping from drum to drum, pounding on them and their bodies, changing the eerie feeling to one of sorrow and mourning. This dance is in reaction to an Earthquake that struck Indonesia in 2009. The message of intense sorrow that the dancers gave off was fitting. However, even with the picked up momentum and emotion in the end, nothing could save the dance from the standstill beginning.

Photo Credits to Kenji Takigami/Asia Society

The final performance was a lively one with tons of energy. Moiseyev Dance Company put on Moiseyev’s Classics, a combination of four dances. The opening act involved three men in black pants and coats dancing and moving with great excitement, setting the tone for the rest of the act. Next, men hopped around the stage, making great leaps and sustaining their energy throughout the performance. Following were gypsies in colorful and bright clothes, moving suggestively. The final dance displayed a huge circle of dancers, with some expertly weaving in and out of the circle. They wore very bright costumes, all of which looked very European. Their smiles and vitality made this dance a fantastic way to close the whole show.

Photo Credits to E.Masalkov

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A Very Interesting and Brave Combination of Styles

Every year during September and October, as a celebration for the Fall for Dance Festival, many dance companies arrive at the Big Apple to have their seasons in the New York City Center. This time, like the past eight years, the festival consisted of several performances on various days, inviting numerous dancers to carry out their talents on stage. There were four very different acts in the October 2nd presentation. Let’s just say, this show included the very classic, the very best, the very confused and the very diverse.

A very traditional ballet, Grand Pas From Paquita, was the classic. For an opening, however, the ballerina, Christiana Bennett, was not a great choice. Though correcting herself alone the way, she missed the rhythm of the music at the beginning. On the other hand, Rex Tilton, the Danseur Noble, strongly contrasted himself from Ms. Bennett, was very supportive and eventually stood out as a very talented dancer. The couple was missing their parts at first, but then slowly catch on and show their coordination from the practice.

The High Heel Blues, a simple, but playful modern dance by Tu-Dance, illustrated the mini-story of a woman wanting to buy high heels from a salesman, even though those shoes didn’t fit. The dancers, Yusha Sorzano and Uri Sands, brilliantly demonstrated with their gestures the duet between the indecisive woman and the smooth talker, in which the characters going forth and back while the dancers choreographed accordingly. The background music High Heel Blues by Tuck and Patti won the audience’s amusement. Very jazzy and yet with a tone of serious (guess she really want those shoes!), the lyric of the song (no instrumental accompanies) were in sync with the movement of the dancers, along with the blue lighting, let the highlight of the night. Here is another performance using the same background music. Take a look:

[iframe width=”420″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/-vJqMk5W_HM” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen]

With such a well-done second performance, the third act, Tarian Malam, was surely in a disadvantage. The dancers were perfect at the illustration of the mood, especially with the martial arts movements inserted, and the constant change of lighting effectively reinforced the theme of earthquake and the emotions. However, even with the intermission, it was a huge and risky twist between the dances. Caught in the light and joyful atmosphere created by the pervious act, it was very hard to capture the full emotion of the dance, and thus led to confusions for some people, including myself.

As a closing act, the various cultural dances worked pretty well for the audience. The choreographer Igor Moiseyev combined the small dances of different cultures into a work of art. Though it might be a good idea to put some plots into the dances (just a personal preference), the pure European cultural dance was entertaining on its own.

The four dances presented on stage could be described with a single word—“idiosyncratic”. Although there are several technical minor mistakes here and there in a few of the performances, different performers danced in their own distinctive styles, each with a unique attitude matching with the mood of the background music. It is almost impossible to compare them with one another, for it would be unjust to simply line them up and list all the best and worst, ignoring all the emotions and the particular characteristic involved in each dance. How do you compare a tiger with a peacock? —Exactly, that’s how distinctive they are.

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Critics’ Corner

Writing encourages us to process what we have encountered, to articulate global impressions or break them down into more analytical components. Here in the Critics’ Corner, we respond in writing to events and excursions.

Feel free to express your own point-of-view, but back it up with details — especially visual ones — that support your opinions.

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